Re: [asa] Gospel in the Stars WAS Star of Bethlehem presentation?

From: Pete Enns <peteenns@mac.com>
Date: Tue Nov 24 2009 - 17:10:23 EST

I think this is a both/and, folks.

1. Historically speaking, Herod was a mess, and a mass killing was not out of character.

2. Matthew's Gospel is prone to some midrashic embellishments, geared as it was to a Jewish audience. Note, too, that the slaughter of the innocents drove Joseph to Egypt. They returned when all those who sought to kill him were dead (Matt 2:19-20), which certainly reflects the same command given to Moses in Exod 4:19. Matthew's Jesus is the new Moses (complete with his own Mt. Sinai experience, i.e., Sermon on the Mount, as we have discussed in this list several weeks ago, etc., etc).

Pete Enns

On Nov 24, 2009, at 4:49 PM, David Campbell wrote:

>> I don't agree that Matthew made up the story of the slaughter of the
>> innocents. Herod was a very nasty boy; I wouldn't put something like that
>> past him, not at all.
>
> A popular joke (with better alliteration in the original) was that it
> was better to be Herod 's swine than his son as the former were less
> likely to be killed. Several family members were executed by him on
> suspicion of political plotting, sometimes on good evidence, sometimes
> on rumors fomented by a rival heir, etc. It would be out of character
> if Herod didn't try to wipe out a possible rival. If I recall
> correctly, he proposed having some mass killing when he died to ensure
> that the populace would be in mourning, though in a rare display of
> sense his heirs did not carry this out. [This is Herod the Great-not
> to be confused with all his Herod and Herodias descendants who inbred
> to make things more confusing.]
>
> On the other hand, it is true that the popular concept of the
> slaughter of the innocents is rather exaggerated relative to what
> Matthew records. Bethlehem was a small town, and the number of young
> children at any one time would not be large.
>
> "I think there's something wrong with the supposed conservative view
> that God spoke to astrologers (a false religion), with them
> functioning as prophets (either directly learning from God or getting
> info from God as a seer) to give them a sign for the Christ-child."
>
> Not sure what's wrong with that. There is a theological problem with
> claiming that going out and doing astrology will lead you to Christ.
> However, given that Christianity holds that we're all by nature
> looking for God in the wrong places, He has to reach us where we are
> in some fashion.
>
> A different question is how a star could guide someone to a house.
> Given the vast distance from the Earth to things in space, pretty much
> any astronomical object will appear to be overhead from anywhere in
> entire village at the same time. One possible solution is an
> alignment of the rising or setting of the star. From the Magi's
> position, it could appear to indicate a specific building.
>
> "It does seem suspicious, I think, that such a traumatic experience
> (Herodís killing the children) wasnít recorded in Luke, and Luke gives
> details about the birth of Christ. Likewise, Matthew mentions nothing
> of the census as Luke records. They each have their own answer to ďIf
> Jesus is the Messiah, how come heís not from Bethlehem, as
> prophesied?Ē His parents traveled to Bethlehem for the birth, thatís
> why. Why did his parents have to go there? Luke and Matthew give
> different reasons."
>
> It does seem suspicious when any failure to mention something in every
> account is regarded as evidence against veracity, especially if
> agreement between accounts gets invoked as proof of copying rather
> than of accuracy. Matthew and Luke have somewhat different audiences
> in view-Matthew is aimed more at a Jewish audience, who would be very
> interested in OT fulfillment; Luke writes to an educated Gentile
> audience, probably acquainted with the LXX but lacking the personal
> interest in how Jesus fulfills the calling of Israel. There's no need
> to record everything, and, as John points out, no space to do so,
> either. One might as well infer that Jesus wasn't born because Mark
> and John don't record it.
>
> --
> Dr. David Campbell
> 425 Scientific Collections
> University of Alabama
> "I think of my happy condition, surrounded by acres of clams"
>
>
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Received on Tue Nov 24 17:10:34 2009

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